The Toronto Auditor General said the city could save tens of millions of dollars in snow clearing costs over the past five years if it worked properly with contractors to ensure its work is completed and completed as billed.
జ New report The city said publicly on Friday that it could save $ 24 million over the past five years if it stated that it could not accept a standby payment in addition to payment for actual hours worked under the terms of the contract with contractors. The report found that the city spent $ 7.1 million on overpayments to contractors for not doing the required work over the same period.
That’s 7.5 percent of the $ 411 million the city spent on winter road maintenance in those five years.
Auditor General Beverly Romeo-Behler also found that the city could do a better job of keeping track of what was happening through available GPS technology.
Of the random sample of 850 vehicles compressed between November 2018 and January 2020, 227 have no GPS data, either because the GPS units are not working or the vehicles are running without them.
“As a result, we have not been able to verify whether service levels have been met by these vehicles or whether the contractor payments for these audit models are correct, and maintenance cannot be done,” Romeo-Behler wrote.
When GPS data was available, transportation service personnel usually did not use it to verify that work had been completed as logged by contractors, according to the report.
In addition, the Romeo-Behler team found that many contractors did not consistently meet service objectives and transport service personnel did not properly handle contracts.
“For example, we found that many contractors have high stop times, start their shifts late, claim more hours than they used to, and work without a working GPS device. As a result, they may not receive the service standards approved by the Council. ”
One contractor claimed more hours than he actually worked 44 times during the audit period, while another took 32 more breaks.
According to city statistics, $ 47 million of the city’s approximately $ 90 million annual snow clearing budget is spent on contractors’ standby payments so that it is available when contractors snow.
The auditor found other problems with the city road maintenance program, such as salt diffusion errors and inefficient manual processes, but were unable to keep a dollar number on how much those problems would cost the city.
Responding to the report on Friday, Mayor John Tory said he read the report with interest and said it was a good example to highlight the value that the Auditor General has.
“I think you have an audit committee and an audit process to figure out things like this,” Tory told reporters at a news conference. “I can assure you, I’m looking for every penny under every bed cushion in this City Hall.
The report comes at a time when the city, which has been badly damaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, is struggling to balance its books. Although the federal government has come to the table with the help of cities, Toronto is already estimating a shortfall of $ 1.5 billion for the coming fiscal year.
The report contains 22 recommendations to improve the city’s road maintenance program.
The Auditor General called for clarification of contract requirements regarding responsibilities and timeliness, reporting and resolving GPS issues, reasonable break times and liquidated losses.
She called on the city to fully influence GPS technology to monitor its workflow and modernize its processes, as well as to better verify the work of contractors before payment and to standardize the process of monitoring contracts.
The current winter road maintenance agreement was signed in 2015.
With two years left to go in the current contract cycle, Romeo-Behler believes the city could save $ 9.6 million if the express terms of the standby terms in the contract were applied. However, she said city attorneys need to review the contract.
The report will go before the city audit committee on October 23.